All-American

Pair of Montana State seniors will perform on college track’s biggest stage

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Winning the 100-meter hurdles at the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships sent Amanda Jaynes into a state of joyous shock.

The first of two Big Sky gold medals for the Montana State senior in Moscow, Idaho would’ve brought her to tears if she wasn’t rendered speechless by the result.

“It was nerve-wracking and I felt like I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders to perform like I knew I could perform and had performed the previous parts of the season but I also had a lot of confidence knowing I have the ability to perform as well,” Jaynes said. “I had been working for the 100 hurdles for four years and when I won that, I wish I could’ve had tears but I didn’t. I was in shock. I finally had one of my goals I had been working for four years.

“To bounce back and win the 400 hurdles, it was really motivating on to the next rounds.”

At the NCAA West Regional Outdoor championships in Sacramento last weekend, the emotions again began with shock in the 100 hurdles, although this time the feeling was the shock that accompanies disappointment. A runner ended up in Jaynes’ lane, causing her to sputter to a 39th-place finish in the 48-athlete field.

If the thrill of the Big Sky gold in the short hurdles ignited Jaynes to earn a regional championship berth in the long hurdles, the disappointment of the short hurdles at the West Regional motivated Jaynes to ensure her career would not end before she reached college track and field’s biggest stage.

In the national quarterfinals of the 400 meter hurdles that serves as the regional championship race, Jaynes pushed threw, posting a time of 58.22 seconds to punch a ticket to this week’s NCAA Outdoor National Championship meet in Eugene, Oregon.

Montana State senior Amanda Jaynes is the 10th Bobcat woman to participate in the NCAA Outdoor Championship meet/ contributed by MSU athletics

“Having a disappointing race in the 100 hurdles, you can’t control outside factors with people falling in your lane or anything like that,” Jaynes said. “But to be able to go to Eugene after having that bad race and not letting it effect me is rather exciting.

“I don’t know what to really expect at nationals. I know it is going to be a different level of competition than I’ve ever experienced in my four years. I’m just excited to get an opportunity to run in Eugene against the likes of Sidney McGlaughlin.”

McGlaughlin, a sophomore at Kentucky, is one of the premier young track athletes in the world. She became the youngest American female track Olympian in nearly 40 years when she qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Jaynes, one of two MSU athletes competing in Eugene along with senior thrower Kyle Douglass, and the rest of the 24-runner 400-meter field will race in the first semifinal at 7 p.m. on Thursday night. She will be running in the first lane of the third heat. She is just the 10th Montana State woman track star to advance to the NCAA Championship meet.

“Right when you are in the blocks, you realize you are here and you have to compete and you don’t know how well you are going to do and you have to have that moment,” Jaynes said. “You also have to think about nothing. The less you think about it, the less nervous you are going to get because then you stop fixating on it. For me, the weeks leading up to these meets, I try not to think what it will be like to race there and I just think what it is to race, what I have to do to race well.

“Once I start to compete, it all melts away.”

Jaynes — who attended Missoula Sentinel for her freshman and sophomore years before earning six medals at the Washington 4A state track meet her junior and senior years at Steilacoom High, including a state title in the 300 hurdles as a senior — said she has spent the time between the regional meet and the national meet trying to keep her normal routine. She’s been prioritizing training, weight lifting, rest and recovery, proper nutrition and hydration.

“Amanda is a little concerned about being the 22 seed,” longtime MSU track and field head coach Dale Kennedy said. “Those are just numbers. She’s got a lane, she’s got a great opportunity. I’m quite confident she can run faster than she’s ran previously.

“Amanda has made a claim that she belongs at this level and has lit the record book on fire.”

Montana State senior Kyle Douglass is the first MSU thrower to advance to the NCAA Outdoor championships since 2005/ contributed by Bobcat Athletics

For Jaynes, her most recent sprint triggered locking in the mindset it takes to sprint 400 meters while jumping over hurdles. For Douglass, himself a Missoula Sentinel graduate, the past experiences and shortfalls led him to securing a chance on the biggest collegiate stage in his sport.

“The previous two years, my season ended (at the West Regional) in Kansas and then Texas last year and I never made it to Oregon,” said Douglass, the Big Sky champion and national meet qualifier in the discus. “The experience of those two meets probably helped as much as anything with this one in Sacramento.

“When I got to the meet, I had already been there 100 times because of the years before and the practice leading up to it. It’s relaxed me quite a bit. The nerves were still there but it relaxed me.”

Douglass did more than just win the Big Sky championship and stamp a regional seed with his 192-foot, five-inch throw in Moscow. He also gave himself a third straight chance to earn a spot in Eugene. With a throw of 182-05, he secured a spot at nationals and also solidified himself amongst the long line of decorated throwers at Montana State.

He will be the first MSU discus thrower to compete in the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 2005 when Josh Henigman finished 14th. He’s the third Bobcat to advance to the meet in the discus with future Olympian Lance Deal the first to do so in 1984 when he placed eighth.

Former Montana State throws coach Mike Carignan/ by Brooks Nuanez

“Honestly, I can’t take credit for any of it,” Douglass said. “God has blessed me with amazing coaches. Coach Mike Carignan laid the foundation for this year even though he’s not here anymore (retired after last season) and Jen Allen has done a great job. And my teammates – they’ve been awesome, so supportive. I’m still getting support even though a lot of their seasons ended. It’s a great program to be a part of. Everyone loves everyone here. I can’t take credit for any of it. It’s all been a gift.”

The men’s discus final begins at 6:05 p.m. on Friday. Douglass is in the first of two heats. The seven-time All-Big Sky performer is the No. 15 seeded thrower and will need a top-eight finish to earn first-team All-American honors.

“Kyle has just been so consistent,” Kennedy said. “Certainly, a 190-foot throw should land him in the top eight to be a First Team All-American. It’d definitely put him in the top 16.”

Regardless of how this weekend plays out for Montana State’s two national championship-caliber seniors, both will be remembered as among the Bobcats’ best to ever compete on the track or in the circle.

Jaynes has earned All-Big Sky honors on nine different occasions. She is Montana State’s all-time record holder in the indoor 60-meter hurdles (8.50 seconds) along with the 100 hurdles (13.66) and the 400 hurdles (57.66) in outdoor. She has five gold medals from the Big Sky meet and will gun for one last accolade, hoping to see her performance accelerated by the elevated field of competition.

“I think it’s 50/50; you can run at that higher level but you risk your body not being ready for it,” Jaynes said. “At the same time, if you are mentally and physically prepared, I think the higher pace of running with these faster girls could push me to run faster than I’ve ever ran.”

Day 3 of the NCAA Track and Field Championships West Preliminary Round in Austin, TX on May 27, 2017. (Nate Barrett Photo)

Douglass is a two-time Big Sky champion who owns seven conference medals. He finished his indoor career with the third-best shot put throw in school history (60 feet, 5.25 inches). His top marks in the discus (192-05) and the shot put (60-01.25) are the second-best marks in Bobcat annals. With one more good throw, Douglass has a chance to add one more title to his decorated resume: All-American.

“I couldn’t feel more blessed to be in this position,” Douglass said. “I didn’t do any of this on my own. I’ve had constant support. I know it’s been a gift. I’m just trying to enjoy it and have some fun. Practice has been going well so I’m just trying to soak it in. No matter what happens next Friday, I’ve had fun and I’ve had the people around me that have meant the most to me. And I’ve gained a lot from this program both on the track and off the track.”

Photos attributed. All Rights Reserved. 

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 12 year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to founded Skyline Sports.

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